I was chatting with the VP of Marketing from GE at MGMA recently and he made a good analogy. He said that the current EHR environment feels like being at a pool party. Everyone’s in their swimsuits, but they’re waiting for someone else to jump in first.
I think we’ve all been at a pool party (same thing happens on the dance floor too) where we’re waiting for someone to start, but once someone does everyone else joins in. I agree that for many the market kind of feels that way. There’s very little doubt that the HITECH Act has increased interest in EMR and EHR software. The number of people looking at and considering EMR and EHR software has got to be at an all time high. However, so far we haven’t had enough people jump in (buy and implement an EHR) so that everyone else will follow.
I’m sure we could think up a lot of reasons why this is the case. I guess many of those standing on the sides are waiting to hear from others if “the water is too cold.” This analogy goes well with my belief that the early meaningful use and EHR users are going to have a strong effect for good or bad on the next wave of EHR adoption. If those that have jumped into the proverbial EHR waters enjoy the experience and find that it’s not “too cold,” then I’m sure that many others will jump in as well. If the first to jump in jump right out or look like they’re having a miserable time, then we can expect many of the others to stay on the sidelines.
I think it’s still a little bit too early to tell how the first meaningful use EHR adopters are doing and what their message to their colleagues will be. So far most of the meaningful EHR users were those who adopted EHR long before the HITECH Act. I’m waiting to hear from those who started adopting post-HITECH Act. Then, we’ll have a better idea of how EHR adoption will progress going forward.